By Stacy Moser
Almost two million people a year visit Chastain Park, Atlanta’s largest park, for a round of golf, a walk around its perimeter, a game of tennis or just to enjoy the view from one of its many benches. But if you look closely as you walk along the west side of the park, you’ll see a little sign pointing the way to Farm Chastain.
Follow that path to the barn where the Chastain Park Conservancy is located. Nearby, Farm Chastain, which is surrounded by raised beds, a greenhouse, beehives, and a goat named Chuck, is where you’ll find Rosie Davidson’s domain. “This farm is my baby,” she says. “Everyone who comes here is amazed by it!” Five years ago, Rosie, a master gardener and Chastain Park Conservancy board member who emigrated here from England, undertook the daunting task of creating an organic urban teaching farm, right in the heart of Sandy Springs. “People come from all over to take classes here—we teach about how to grow and use herbs, container gardening, composting, even how to grow healthy food for tailgating!”
Rosie, whose infectious enthusiasm for gardening is clearly a factor in the farm’s success, says she loves meeting new people as part of her work there. “I don’t want people to be intimidated by gardening,” she says. “Some people go on garden tours of great big houses and they become overwhelmed. But here, we teach people to take it one step at a time. I love to see people walk away from here with a smile on their face. I love teaching kids who’ve never eaten veggies off the vine.” She grows serious when she talks about her bout with breast cancer (she’s five years a survivor) and her husband’s prostate cancer scare (he was diagnosed 17 years ago). “I lost interest in everything when I was going through treatment,” she remembers. “I felt miserable. Then it all came back to me. You get out there and get your hands dirty—it’s therapeutic.”
The farm has partnered with Piedmont Hospital’s Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness program to offer classes emphasizing healthy eating. “Those classes are close to my heart. You have to watch what you put in your body and take care of yourself.” The farm also hosts a monthly Fulton Fresh 4-H club meeting where kids can learn about nutrition and more. After a day’s work, Rosie says she and her husband love a date night at Bones on Piedmont Road. Adding, “Anis Café & Bistro is great, too. The food is incredible.”